Donald Trump knows he saw the video, even if no evidence of the video ever existed. That doesn’t stop him from pursuing what he remembers as the debate over whether to take in Syrian refugees continues to grow in the Republican presidential primary.
Twice over the weekend the GOP frontrunner recounted how he saw Muslims cheering in New Jersey after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon — but this has been labelled either a false memory or an outright lie.
The first remark over the video came in Birmingham, Alabama, on Saturday when he said that as the World Trade Center toppled down, he watched the footage in Jersey City “as thousands of people were cheering as the building was coming down.”
The next morning, on ABC’s “This Week” with George Stephanolpoulos, Trump refused to budge on his recollection.”There were people that were cheering on the other side of New Jersey where you have large Arab populations,” Trump said. “They were cheering as the World Trade Center came down. I know it might be not politically correct for you to talk about it, but there were people cheering as that building came down.”
“Police say it didn’t happen,” Stephanopoulos said. Trump’s response was that he saw it on television.
“It was well covered at the time,” he said.
No footage has been found to date of any celebrations of Muslims in Jersey City, or any other place in New Jersey. There were, however, reports of rumors that Muslims and Arab nationals were celebrations in New Jersey and there was footage of Palestinians celebrating in the Middle East. The Associated Press covered the situation as baseless “rumors of rooftop celebrations of the attack by Muslims” in the Garden State.
This has spawned attacks from other politicians in the Jersey area against the bussinessman-turned-politician.
Either @realDonaldTrump has memory issues or willfully distorts the truth, either of which should be concerning for the Republican Party
— Steven Fulop (@StevenFulop) November 22, 2015
— George E. Pataki (@GovernorPataki) November 22, 2015
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is running against Trump for the GOP nomination, remained silent for a large part of the weekend, not responding to the remarks or issuing any statement similar to the Jersey City mayor or former New York governor.
When he was pressed about it, Christie took a non-committal stance, saying he did not recall it happening.
“I do not remember that, and so it’s not something that was part of my recollection. I think if it had happened, I would remember it, but you know, there could be things I forget, too,” Christie told NJ.com.
The comments have been the latest in a serious of controversial statements by Trump since the Paris attacks over a week ago. Earlier, the real estate mogul suggested a Muslim registry for all those of the Islamic faith to enter into a database similar to the forced registrations of the Jews during Adolf Hitler’s reign in Germany.